Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, August 16, 2013
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Romero joins mayor's race

A Key West self-styled government watchdog who lost to Mayor Craig Cates in the 2011 election will make a bid against him Oct. 1.

Margaret Romero, a Conch and retired IBM executive, filed paperwork with the city Thursday to become the second candidate in the general election for Key West mayor.

With Romero's entrance, Cates is no longer guaranteed automatic re-election come noon today, when qualifying ends.

This year's mayoral race is for a one-year term, not the usual two, so that the city can coincide with statewide races. Voters approved the change last November.

Cates filed for re-election Feb. 6.

Romero couldn't be reached Thursday night for comment, but in 2011 she said running for office was a way to participate further in local government. She said her integrity and lack of special interest connections made her the best choice.

The last time this pair squared off at the ballot box, Cates coasted to victory.

He easily won re-election in 2011, raking in more than 70 percent of the vote against Romero and a third candidate, Carie Noda.

Cates garnered 2,779 votes, while Romero claimed 1,087 votes, or 27 percent. Noda had 92 votes, or 2.32 percent.

Voter turnout in that mayoral race was just over 26 percent.

Cates is a retired business owner who prides himself on being a "full-time" mayor.

Romero has served on the city's Strategic Planning Committee and serves on the Monroe County Tourist Development Council's Key West District Advisory Committee, which decides how Key West's share of bed-tax funding should be spent.

She is a graduate of the Key West Ambassadors Program, the Citizens Police Academy and is a certified first-responder in the event of a citywide emergency.

Romero speaks during public comment periods at almost every City Commission meeting, typically questioning leaders over budgets and costs.

In early 2011, she was among the most vocal critics of the School District's construction of the new Horace O'Bryant School, whose tiltwalls crashed through the neighborhood's height restriction of 25 feet, standing 64 feet from the crown of the road.

Romero led a movement that demanded the school chop down the walls to 25 feet, per neighborhood rules. School Board member Andy Griffiths then called the idea "insane," and other board members couldn't fathom billing taxpayers for a giant redo.

The dispute pitted the School District against commissioners and a compromise was made to lop a few feet off the remaining HOB buildings' height.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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